Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
A narrow victory at a modest rate of 2.2.1 at Bridgetown followed by a second in a three-horse Byford trial a week later have given Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell good reason to feel optimistic about the prospects of Whataretheodds when he contests the Titanium Man Pace for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Whataretheodds, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from the No. 4 barrier, has posed a few problems for Bell since resuming work after a beneficial spell following an excellent campaign as a two-year-old.
“I have made no secret that I’ve had a troubled preparation with him,” said Bell. “I don’t think that we’re one hundred per cent there yet, but I think he is good enough to win. The filly (Wonderful To Fly) will be the hardest to beat.
“The 2536m journey won’t worry Whataretheodds at all; it will be in his favour. We are finally stepping forward with him. Two months ago, we were struggling, just with a few niggling soundness issues. He was going through a growth change, and this was upsetting him and giving him some aches and pains.
“We just took our time and now we seem to be on the right track. His trial at Byford on Sunday indicated that we can press on. The trial was run in windy conditions and he followed the Gary Hall Senior’s Free-For-Aller Texas Tiger, and they went 1.56.7, with Whataretheodds finishing at Texas Tiger’s wheel. He has come through the trial extremely well and I’m looking upwards, hopefully. We will know more by Friday.”
Whataretheodds trailed the pacemaker Texas Tiger in the 2150m trial, and he fought on solidly, with the final quarters being run in 28.8sec. and 28.2sec.
The previous Sunday Whataretheodds, racing first-up for five weeks — after he had finished a head second to Soho Santorini over 2130m at Gloucester Park on February 15 at his first appearance after a seven-month absence — contested a 2190m event at Bridgetown.
He set a modest pace before sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.9sec. and 26.9sec. and holding on to win by a neck from Sport Sport Sport, rating 2.2.1.
“The win didn’t look impressive, but he’s that type of horse who doesn’t win by much.”
Whataretheodds was a smart two-year-old last year when he raced ten times for four wins and four seconds. Two of his second placings were behind Rock On Top in the Westbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings and behind Tricky Miki in the Golden Slipper.
In what should be a good betting race on Friday night Wonderful To Fly and High Price loom large as strong winning chances. Wonderful To Fly, the only filly in the race and the winner of eleven races, will start from the outside barrier (No. 9), while the comparatively inexperienced but talented High Price is favourably drawn at barrier two.
“I’m racing Wonderful To Fly against the colts and geldings because she needs the run as part of her preparation for the Gold Bullion on April 22,” said part-owner and trainer-reinsman Shane Young.
“The distance this week won’t bother her. We will probably be sitting and hoping for a bit of luck. Nothing is easy; a lot will depend on how the race is run. It could be single file, and I don’t want to be the one in the breeze, if possible. She can’t do that every week because she will get sick of it. Hopefully, I can drive her for her speed (late) and see what happens.”
High Price, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, has raced five times for one win and two placings. He warmed up for Friday night’s assignment in good style when he ran home boldly from three back on the pegs to finish second to Infinite Sign, with final quarters of 27.7sec. and 29.5sec.
“He went good at Pinjarra and is a work in progress,” said reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. “However, it is hard to suggest he can beat Wonderful To Fly. But I’ll be trying to lead and make every post a winner.”
Last-start winner Alcopony and other smart youngsters in Seven No Trumps, Hoppys Way and Rock On Top cannot be left out of consideration, and they should combine to make the event extremely competitive